The Save Our Seas Foundation recently sponsored the Wavescapes Surfing Film Festival 2008, which ran for two weeks during December in Cape Town, South Africa, and which was attended by over 6700 people. The SOSF award winning campaign, Rethink the Shark was the theme, which encouraged surfers who are vulnerable to encounters with sharks, to become ambassadors for their plight. The positive combination of sharks and surfers is an anomaly, which created great impact and interest amongst surfers and the participating general public, and thus resulted in a very successful awareness campaign.
The components of Wavescapes 2008 included an art auction and launch evening, the film screening on Clifton 4th Beach and screenings of numerous films, including the SOSF Rethink the Shark commercials, at two different venues. The exhibition and auction of unusually painted surfboards, juxtaposed amongst prints of some of SOSF Chief Photographer Tom Peschak’s shark images, successfully launched the Festival. After I addressed an attentive audience of around 200 people, comedian and auctioneer, Mark Sampson, went on to raise the record amount of R125,000.
Cinema under the stars
The highlight of the Festival was the film screening on Clifton 4th Beach a few days later, attended by over 3000 people – another record for this longstanding and successful festival. The unique amphitheatre of an amber setting sun over a calm Atlantic sea, fringed by granite boulders on the one side, and the majestic, dark mountains dwarfing the crowd on the other, made this undoubtedly one of the most spectacular outdoor cinemas in the world.
Dispelling shark myths
Largely due to irresponsible media portrayal of sharks, the combination of sharks and surfers normally gives rise to images of a black fin slicing through the water, of limbless victims and other such horrifying thoughts. But only one person was killed by a shark during 2007, while more people were killed by faulty toasters as the Rethink the Shark commercial highlights. By supporting events like Wavescapes, the SOSF is proactively changing the negative perceptions people have of sharks in order to assist in their conservation. We thank our Wavescapes Festival partners and the City of Cape Town for helping us create awareness and encourage people to Rethink the Shark!
For more information about the Wavescapes Film Festival click here.
For more information about the Save Our Seas Shark Centre, Cape Town click here.
To listen to a radio interview with Lesley Rochat discussing the festival click here. You will need RealPlayer to hear the interview. If you don’t have RealPlayer already, you can download the free software here.